A Note for Budding Entrepreneurs from Tim Cobb of Cobb PR

4th October 2011

Before Cobb PR was a reality, I had to go on a long path of both rejection and recognition in terms of my career.

Initially, I applied to work for at least 100 different weekly newspapers. Nobody wanted me. In time, I did work at a weekly newspaper, covering flower shows and the like. I even covered the story of a town council clerk having an affair with the wife of a clergyman. I then moved on to work for The Brighton Argus. After a while, I began to work on a freelance basis for The Daily Mail. I was grateful for the experience but to be perfectly honest, I was treated like a tea boy. After that, I worked for The Independent which was fantastic; they gave me the opportunity to be colourful and creative with my writing. I continued with different newspapers and I went on to have many more experiences with added responsibility. Eventually, I worked for the Press Association as News Editor and had my own team of 50 reporters and photographers covering news from across the UK and Europe.

However, I had always wanted to work for myself. In 1995, I decided to make that ambition a reality. Now, Cobb PR is made up of a fantastic team of fifteen and we work with a fantastic group of companies including Legal & General, Southern Water and South East Water. I believe it is important to put time and effort back into the community. I am on the Board of Directors for the Eastbourne Chamber of Commerce and a non-exec Director of Eastbourne Borough Football Club.

                    Tim Cobb

During the last 16 years, I have made mistakes and been guilty of poor judgement. So here are my tips on how to run a good business:

1. Don’t be afraid to take a risk.

2. Be brave and take on a member of staff when things start taking off. Please refer to tip 1. It took me three years of delays and excuses until I plucked up enough courage to employ somebody.

3. Be a boss, not a friend – if you employ people, you cannot be a friend and the person who may one day have to sack them. Draw a line, don’t step over it.

4. Some people will shaft you. Learn to look for the signs.

5. Learn to say no. Charities will always come knocking, you can’t help everyone.

6. Adapt your skills to maximise your appeal to your customers. If your offering is limited, find ways of widening it. For instance at Cobb PR, initially we outsourced digital marketing. Now we have a digital team.

7. Be confident in your own skills. Many people are quite happy to knock you back and criticise you.

8. Retain your self-respect, don’t be a door mat. Customer service is hugely important, but don’t let your clients walk all over you.

9. Be prepared to sack a client you cannot work with. It’s not the best situation but you will feel so much better about it, and you will knock the stuffing out of them.

10. Be aware of your costs. We are in a recession and clients may go dormant. At Cobb PR, we felt the pinch. So we asked our suppliers to look at their charges and reduced our overheads by 4k.

11. Always find time for yourself, family and friends. The world will not stop just because you take a holiday or finish work early one day.

Cobb PR was built on lots of hard work and determination. Some people say I have been lucky. There is an element of luck in every successful business. But nothing compensates for hard work, an open mind and being prepared to take a risk. I found that the harder I work, the luckier I get. There is no reason why it couldn’t be you. I hope these tips have helped. Just remember to make the time for family and friends.

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